Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Jill Botway, WMI

Jill Botway

How is media consumed differently today?

Anyone over 25-30 has constantly changing media habits so it can be tough to quantify the behavior. The digital natives are more predictable. The digital immigrants like me are more selective with our usage and have different levels of adoption.

The key for marketers is to present themselves in a meaningful and relevant way. We can’t completely vaporize patterns and emotional connections that people have built up over time. Some folks have that comfort baked in. We have an emotional connection to experiences collected along the way that we try to recreate like reading magazines on the beach. For my daughter [who is 12], digital is her comfort zone. Someday she’ll bring her iPad to the beach to read.

I’m focused on helping marketers [via my job as CEO at WMI] who are looking for the right spot to break into the conversation with mature woman. These “Boomer women” are not behaving like their mothers. To them, this period is about liberation, not crisis. It’s about travel and adventure, not knitting and bridge. They have money coming in from their parents estates or their husbands (dead, divorced, or current) and are looking for authentic sources of information. Today, that source is their friends and peers. How does WMI become their best friend? We want to own that segment.

Why has Google been so successful?

Google introduces the right model at the right time for the current consumers. They got in front of a trend and made what traditionally has used other channels [use the search channel].

As it gets into mobile and other categories, is Google spreading itself to thin?

I’m always cautious about extending off the core [of a business]. Is it an extension of the business or a new business. When looking at other companies and their business cycles you see sometimes they have to spin off. It’s a fine line. You can’t just row the mothership. You have to innovate and extend.

Lesson #15 is “Sex Sells.” How would you respond to a CMO that says, “We need to sex up our campaign.”

Sure, sex sells. But we all have different definitions of “sex” [and how it would sell] depending on our life experiences. Selling sex to a 20 year old is a lot different than to a 50 year old. The wiring or animal instinct doesn’t go away, it just transforms.

Authenticity is key. It’s about targeting different ages and life experiences. That should guide the messaging. It’s all about feeling good about yourself. Thematically, it’s the same but it morphs over time. When I was 20 years old that beer commercial with booze spraying everywhere and wet t-shirts galore sounded like a fun party. Today, I couldn’t get out of that bar fast enough. It’s not talking to me but it did back then.

Lesson #16 is “Altruism Sells.” How would you respond to the CMO that says, “We need to do some green marketing and talk about our philanthropic efforts.”

You have to ask what the impact is at the local level. How does it affect [the consumer] on a day-to-day level. What [is the company] doing for me or my community? Is their money where their mouth is?

The real connection is at the local level. Did they tear up a dirty patch in New York and make it into a garden? Everyone says “green is better” and “clean it up” but the culture is vary way of big corporate guns.

With Google creating a system for marketers to buy media directly from publishers, how does the role of media agencies change?

Google is a technology company. Media agencies are service businesses. Agencies own relationships, strategy, brand understanding, and consumer insights informed by data provided by the likes of Google. It might be smarter for agencies to use a technology partner to get the data rather than trying to aggregate it themselves.

Google is trying to move too far into service without the capabilities or know-how. That’s why it’s newspaper [and radio] efforts failed. Some aspects of media buying lend themselves to [algorithms] like “efficiency buying” — I never liked the word, “tonnage” — but that’s not the full shooting match.

Meanwhile, agencies may be trying to become too technically advanced. For the commoditized marketplace and behavioral targeting, those are places where technology can be an asset. At the end of the day though, you need [to identify] a relevant and meaningful way to get your message out and there’s not a technology solution for that.

Clients will continue to put pressure and devalue service [from agencies] but this pendulum could swing back as agencies defend value and don’t commoditize it. I just don’t see how google can build a global brand for a global business and how [that brand] acts, behaves where it is and how it communicates. For this, you need people.

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